PDA

View Full Version : The Great Big Iceberg Story



Marian Perera
02-12-2014, 09:13 PM
Hi guys,

First, thanks so much for your help in answering all the various questions I’ve had for other novels. I’d have been at sea at a loss without all the explanations and suggestions.

Second, this is the iceberg novel I’ve been hoping to write for a long time, so I decided to put some questions into one handy post. Oh, one last thing, it's a romantic fantasy set at the tail-end of the Age of Sail. Without further ado…

1. What are one or two commands the captain or the sailing-master might give in regard to sails/rigging if the ship is trying to get away from a large iceberg and the ship is downwind of it? There’s plenty of wind at this time. I’d love it if they put up every stitch of canvas and then changed course ninety degrees to get completely away from the iceberg’s path, if that’s possible (this is no ordinary iceberg, so it’s following them).

2. The iceberg is controlled by magic, so it can change shape. When the ship is close enough, the berg’s master decides to seize the ship undamaged, so he has the berg sprout two arms that form a pincer around the ship without touching it (think an amoeba engulfing a bit of food). When the two arms touch, they fuse, and this leaves the ship still floating in a little lake that’s enclosed by thick ice.

My question is, if the ship is a regular three-masted sailing ship, what would the depth and width of the lake need to be for the ship to remain upright and undamaged? I don’t want it to move. I just want it to be floating upright in this lake. And for the purpose of the story, there’s no wind at this time. They're becalmed when the berg catches up with them.


3. How might cabins be safely heated?



Thanks in advance. :)

jclarkdawe
02-13-2014, 01:35 AM
Hi guys,

First, thanks so much for your help in answering all the various questions Iíve had for other novels. Iíd have been at sea at a loss without all the explanations and suggestions.

Second, this is the iceberg novel Iíve been hoping to write for a long time, so I decided to put some questions into one handy post. Oh, one last thing, it's a romantic fantasy set at the tail-end of the Age of Sail. Without further adoÖ

1. What are one or two commands the captain or the sailing-master might give in regard to sails/rigging if the ship is trying to get away from a large iceberg and the ship is downwind of it? Thereís plenty of wind at this time. Iíd love it if they put up every stitch of canvas and then changed course ninety degrees to get completely away from the icebergís path, if thatís possible (this is no ordinary iceberg, so itís following them).

One of the last sails to be used are the royals. Normally used only in very light air, they're the sails at the top of the mast. I could see letting go of the royals to give me an extra speed boost. The command from the captain would be, "Let go the royals." The ship would increase the heel of the boat significantly, and cause some handling difficulties. The heel increasing would be very noticeable.

Then the first lieutenant would start screaming at the captain, "You're going to rip the sticks out of her, Captain." Tearing out the sticks means the masts breaking off.

2. The iceberg is controlled by magic, so it can change shape. When the ship is close enough, the bergís master decides to seize the ship undamaged, so he has the berg sprout two arms that form a pincer around the ship without touching it (think an amoeba engulfing a bit of food). When the two arms touch, they fuse, and this leaves the ship still floating in a little lake thatís enclosed by thick ice.

My question is, if the ship is a regular three-masted sailing ship, what would the depth and width of the lake need to be for the ship to remain upright and undamaged? I donít want it to move. I just want it to be floating upright in this lake. And for the purpose of the story, thereís no wind at this time. They're becalmed when the berg catches up with them.

Measurements for the Cutty Sark is 280 feet long and 36 feet wide. It needs at least 21 feet to float.

3. How might cabins be safely heated?

Wooden ships weren't heated. Too much of a risk of fire. But they had a fair amount of warmth due to the crowded nature of the ships. Ships have to be virtually airtight, as they have to be watertight. This includes even the parts above the waterline, as waves breaking over the ship need to drain over the side, not into the bilges.

Thanks in advance. :)

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Marian Perera
02-13-2014, 01:50 AM
"Let go the royals!" and "We'll rip the sticks out of her" are perfect, thanks Jim. :) I'll also mention the heeling.

And we'll say.... 50 feet for the depth of the lake. Just to be on the safe side.

I wish I could come up with a safe way to heat at least one room on the ship, though (not the galley). This being a romantic fantasy and all. I already have a shivery on-the-iceberg sex scene planned. Would a brazier be safe to use? Once the ice encloses them, the water in the lake is very calm, so it's not likely that waves would break over the ship, and it's freezing since they're so close to the iceberg.

Drachen Jager
02-13-2014, 02:15 AM
I've read lots of fantasies where the rooms are heated with coals. I never considered where they got the coals from, though.

Surely the cook must have some kind of stove to work with? Take coals from that in a ventilated pot (I forget the name for these, they were common enough in those days). That throws off quite a bit of heat, so long as you swap in fresh coals every hour or two.

Drachen Jager
02-13-2014, 02:18 AM
Here's something from a history of the US Navy (19th century)

"Heating Heating in the old sailing ships, many of which were in use until the late 1870s, was almost non-existent. The only fire allowed on board was the one in the galley on which the food was prepared. Wood or coal was used as fuel. The cabin and sick bay were heated by hot shot partially buried in sand in an iron bucket. The quarters of the enlisted men were unheated. Hanging or charcoal stoves were used to dry between decks but were used to dry between decks but were of no value in heating the ship. With the advent of steam it became possible to heat our ships. Just when steam-heat was first used has not been found."


http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/living_cond.htm#heat

Marian Perera
02-13-2014, 02:28 AM
The cabin and sick bay were heated by hot shot partially buried in sand in an iron bucket.

Oh, that would be perfect. It just has to warm the cabin up for this one scene. Thanks for the suggestion!

Marian Perera
02-13-2014, 04:44 PM
Oh, one more question.


The ship would increase the heel of the boat significantly, and cause some handling difficulties. The heel increasing would be very noticeable.I wrote this scene yesterday, but it occurs to me now that the heeling problem might be worsened if they do a ninety-degree turn. Is that the case?

The sudden turn is because they're trying to get away from the iceberg, which is less maneuverable. If the heeling is a problem during the turn, could I have the captain take the wheel to show that he's skilful in handling the ship through this, or is the heeling likely to be so bad that, well, no one could get the ship to perform this maneuver?

Also, assuming they do go ahead with the turn, how would the captain give such an order? Hard a'starboard?

jclarkdawe
02-13-2014, 11:37 PM
You ready to learn a whole lot?

Sailing uses two different circles and you need to understand the difference so you can follow me. One is the North/South compass circle, where 0 degrees is due North and 180 degrees is due South. The other is the wind compass circle where 0 degrees is the direction the wind is from and 180 degrees is dead down wind.

Square riggers (the old sailboats) were designed to be their best on a course from 100 degrees to about 175 degrees, and 260 degrees to 185 degrees. In other words, from a little bit to just below a right angle to the wind, to almost dead downwind.

Anything above 90 degrees or 270 degrees is going upwind. Square riggers could get up to about 70 degrees on one side and 290 degrees on the other side. The area between 290 and 70 degrees is too close into the wind, and square riggers would stall, and not move. Modern sailboats can go upwind to about 30 degrees, and depending upon the sail plan and the sail's efficiency, where a particular boat falls into that range varies.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4b/Points_of_sail.svg/300px-Points_of_sail.svg.png

The points of sail. A. in irons (into the wind); B. close hauled; C. beam reach; D. broad reach; E. running; Shaded: "no go zone"

Going 90 degrees to the wind is a beam reach and going further downwind is a broad reach. Depending upon the sail plan, running (downwind) and broad reaches tend to be the fastest points of sailing.

So to escape this iceberg, you want the ship to go from a course of 185 degrees to 270 degrees (hard to starboard). I would then get onto a broad reach of around 235 degrees. The problem with staying on the beam reach is it's a bit slower then a broad reach.

Compasses actually have two circles, so that you can look at the compass and translate these into a north/south course. Very rarely is the wind blowing in a north/south direction.

With me so far?

Okay, there's more wind 100 feet up then at sea level. It's stronger. Problem is this wind wants to push you over. But your keel and hull are resisting this push. Assuming nothing breaks, if you have too much sail up top, and not enough resistance down below, you'll be laid on your side. This is angle of heel. A few degrees is good, and actually desirable. 90 degrees of heel and your mast is in the water.

Letting go the royals is going to increase your speed and push you faster through the water. However, as you start your turn, more and more pressure is going to be exerted against the royals, as well as the rest of your sails, pushing you onto your side. As you get pushed onto your side, your keel rises up and the angle on the deck becomes harder to stand on. By the time you reach a beam reach, you will have the maximum force against the top of the masts and the least against the keel.

So you've got to let go of your sheets to reduce the force, while at the same time maximizing the power. You'd let go of the sheets, then once you reach a beam reach, start hauling in on your sheets to go to a broad reach. Problem is I've never done this on a ship like this and I don't know the exact commands you'd use. Then again, there aren't too many people in the world that know this either.

As you go on your side because of the heeling, you'll increase the leeway your hull is making. Leeway is the action of a boat to be pushed to leeward by the wind. Your keel is designed to minimize the leeway. But what's going to happen here is you'll have a lot of turbulence on the windward side of the hull, and be sort of sliding sideways. This isn't a problem with plenty of sea room, but again, you need to reduce power (release sheets) to enable the hull to grip better.

The rudder is actually going to become light, with reduced pressure on it due to the turbulence and cavitation. And a lot of the steering is actually going to be accomplished by the force of the wind on the sails. On a fore/aft plane, you want the power of the wind on the stern at first, with less power on the bow. This will push the stern around. Then once you want to go to a broad reach, you need to increase the power of the bow and let the wind push it down.

Instead of grabbing the wheel, the captain is going to be barking out a bunch of commands, watching how the ship is handling, balancing out the effects of each command. And realize this isn't going to be a quick move like a sports car. It's going to be more like a truck. You're going to use a mile or so to make it.

Initial commands would be, "Hard a'starboard. Let go royal sheets and foresail, haul in on the mizzen sheet."

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Marian Perera
02-14-2014, 04:44 AM
You ready to learn a whole lot?

I'm beginning to think ships' captains had to be geniuses.

Am loving the technical terms, by the way. As far as I can see at the moment, this is going to be the ship's last hurrah, because after the iceberg snares them, they aren't going anywhere. Until the end of the book, when the iceberg isn't a threat any more. So I might as well pull out the stops in making the evasive maneuvers exciting.

Thanks also for the explanation of how the wind affects a ship when there's more sail than there is pull on the water. I'll be sure to describe the deck tilting, and anything that isn't tied down rolling with it.


Instead of grabbing the wheel, the captain is going to be barking out a bunch of commands, watching how the ship is handling, balancing out the effects of each command.

That's perfect. Just what I needed to show his competence and coolness under pressure.


And realize this isn't going to be a quick move like a sports car.

Yeah, I think part of my fondness for chase scenes comes from writing Transformers fanfiction where the main character was a Tyrell P-34 Formula One open-wheeled racecar who could turn on a dime. Not happening here. :)


Initial commands would be, "Hard a'starboard. Let go royal sheets and foresail, haul in on the mizzen sheet."

Much appreciate this!